UI to commemorate 50th anniversary of King's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'

UI to commemorate 50th anniversary of King's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'

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On April 16—the 50th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his Letter from Birmingham Jail—participants worldwide will read King's Letter to commemorate King’s work and inspire audiences today to work for the world he envisioned.The University of Iowa will host a reading of King's Letter from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum.

King wrote the letter from the city jail in Birmingham, Ala., where he was confined after being arrested for his part in the Birmingham campaign, a planned nonviolent protest against racial segregation by Birmingham's city government and downtown retailers.

He wrote the Letter in response to his frustrations with a group of white ministers in Birmingham who said they supported an eventual end to segregation, but did not want to see immediate change. While seated in his cell, King drafted a response that explains to the ministers why African-Americans in Birmingham could no longer wait.

The Letter was published widely within subsequent months and became a persuasive tool for the modern civil rights movement. On the heels of King's arrest came the “Project C” demonstrations in Birmingham, which eventually led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Dean Chaden Djalali will give opening remarks. TheLetter will be read by a group of recent Obermann Center for Advanced Studies Graduate Fellows. Michael Hill, professor of English and African American Studies in CLAS, will comment on the Letter's significance after the reading. Sylvea Hollis, a doctoral student in the Department of History, organized the reading.

For more on the event, visit obermann.uiowa.edu/events/letter-birmingham-jail-worldwide-celebration.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI events. If you require an accommodation to participate in this program, contact Sylvea Hollis in advance at 205-541-1460.


Neda Barrett, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 319-335-4034


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